A 15-YEAR-OLD girl has died after a shark “bit her in half” while she was swimming in the Indian Ocean.
The gruesome attack struck when the French teen was only FIVE METRES from the shore in northwest Reunion, a French island near Mauritius and Madagascar.
Incredibly, the friend she was with managed to swim to safety to call for help but was too late to save her.
Gina Hoarau, the director of public safety in Saint-Paul, said: “Part of her body was carried away by the shark.”
She added: “The conditions of the attack are surprising. You wouldn’t think that a shark would get this close to the shore.”
French politician Thierry Robert last year described a marine reserve near the bay of Saint-Paul set up six years ago to safeguard coral reefs as a “shark’s larder”.
The girl, who lives in France with her mother, was on holiday visiting her father who works at a yacht club in the area.
She was snorkelling in an unsupervised area where bathing is forbidden due to high shark numbers, officials said.
It is the second deadly shark attack this year off the French island.
And brings the total of shark-related deaths there since 2011 to five.
But it is the first time in at least three decades that a swimmer, rather than a surfer, was the victim.
Local authorities this month renewed safety warnings following an increase in shark numbers.
A spate of shark attacks last year off Reunion island prompted France to hire a team of professional fishermen to kill around 20 of them, but Paris has refused to mount a more widespread cull.